Fianna Fáil says 'heart taken out of domestic economy'

Tuesday 17 September 2013 08.54
Micheál Martin says the proposed €3.1bn Budget adjustment is 'excessive'
Micheál Martin says the proposed €3.1bn Budget adjustment is 'excessive'

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party is meeting in Waterford ahead of the new Dáil term.

Support for the retention of the Seanad in next month's referendum and opposition to the proposed €3.1bn Budget cuts and savings dominated the discussions.

Party leader Micheál Martin said the "heart has been taken out of the domestic economy" and the Budget needs to address that.

Speaking to the media, he said there is a "crying need to give people a break and in particular in the domestic economy".

Mr Martin said the proposed €3.1bn Budget adjustment is "excessive" but his party has not yet decided on an acceptable adjustment figure.

His party is committed to the overall targets that have been set, he said.

Reacting to reports at the weekend that the Government is considering a cap on social welfare payments, Mr Martin accused the Government of playing games for saying one thing one day and then another source withdraws it the next day.

He told Government sources to "cop themselves on" as many people who are on welfare do not wish to be on welfare.

There are extraordinary delays in processing welfare applications, he said.

Speaking about Fianna Fáil's decision to support the No campaign in the Seanad referendum, Mr Martin believes the Government has gone back on promises made during the election to radically reform politics.

He said the situation has become worse over the last two-and-a-half years, saying we have witnessed how a Government can abuse a huge majority by ramming legislation, such as the property tax, through the House without adequate debate, without allowing amendments to that bill in 24 hours.

Finance Spokesman Michael McGrath said the party has to focus on presenting itself as a credible and responsible opposition party.

His finance team will table a Dáil Private Members' motion on mortgage arrears asking the Government to establish an independent office to protect people in mortgage arrears.

The party said it is important that people get sustainable solutions and fair outcomes to their negotiations with banks.

Fianna Fáil will also be looking at its crucial local election strategy at its gathering.

Billy Kelleher said think-ins are "critically important" for Opposition parties to bring forward policies and not just "populist" set-piece events.